Falcons trust Avery Williams at kickoff returner

051421 Flowery Branch: Atlanta Falcons outsider linebacker Alani Pututau (from left) and cornerbacks Avery Williams and Darren Hall lead the way to the next drills during rookie minicamp on Friday, May 14, 2021, in Flowery Branch.     “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”
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051421 Flowery Branch: Atlanta Falcons outsider linebacker Alani Pututau (from left) and cornerbacks Avery Williams and Darren Hall lead the way to the next drills during rookie minicamp on Friday, May 14, 2021, in Flowery Branch. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

FLOWERY BRANCH – With Cordarrelle Patterson needed to play more running back on offense, the Falcons handed the kickoff returner job to rookie Avery Williams on Sunday.

Patterson, a four-time All-Pro kickoff returner, responded with 108 yards rushing and two touchdowns in the 21-14 win over Jacksonville.

“It’s a week-by-week decision,” special-teams coordinator Marquice Williams said Thursday. “Coach (Arthur) Smith and myself, we decide on when it comes to his value. Obviously, he’s very valuable on special teams, but his workload is going to be on special teams in correlation to offense.”

Patterson, who’s fourth in the voting for the Pro Bowl at return specialist, has returned 14 kickoffs for 332 yards for a 23.7 average. Avery Williams has returned 14 kickoffs for 256 yards for 18.3 average.

“He continues to get better each and every week,” Marquice Williams said.

Avery Williams, who was drafted in the fifth round, returned six punts for touchdowns and three kickoffs for touchdowns at Boise State.

“He’s continuing to make great decisions,” Marquice Williams said. “That’s why he’s back there. As a team, we trust him. When he’s carrying the ball, he’s carrying the fate of the organization in his hands. We trust him with making those right decisions.”

Subpar decision-making can lead to muffed punts or catching punts inside the 5-yard line, Williams said.

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